Talk:1989 Jonesborough ambush

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Weather conditions that afternoon[edit]

The reason I described the afternoon as having been dark and overcast was not for literary purposes but to demonstrate that because of the weather conditions, visibilty would have been poor which was probably why Buchanan slowed down his vehicle, thinking the IRA roadblock was a genuine British Army vehicle checkpoint in progress.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 07:52, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Time of ambush[edit]

It is hard to be absolutely precise about the time of attack as witnesses can be wildly inaccurate regarding time. The RUC at Forkhill received a call at 15.45 advising them of the shooting; as Breen and Buchanan had left the Garda Station at 15.15, the time of 15.30 seems the most reliable.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 16:25, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

RTE News give the time as 15.40 which makes sense if their meeting had ended at 15.15 and they'd taken a detour out of Dundalk.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:37, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Specifying British Army[edit]

I believe the article needs to specify British Army when referring to that agency, although it's obvious to those readers familiar with the geo-political history of Northern Ireland that any reference to Army refers to the British Army, seeing as the North is part of the UK. We must, however recall that the Provisional IRA call themselves "the Army". Where the article states that Buchanan believed a vehicle checkpoint was in progress, we must specify British Army on account that the Irish Army do have checkpoints on the border, which can be crossed on unapproved roads. Bearing that in mind, it's possible that a driver might not realise he was still in the Irish Republic or vice-versa. The ambush took place just yards north of the border.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 16:42, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Content but only on the basis that of possible legitimate confusion with the Southern Irish Army. Mooretwin (talk) 21:41, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Agree with Mooretwin. I agree in this instance as there is a legitimate concern that there could be confusion with the army of the republic, but we shouldn't need to specify "British Army" when talking abouts its tussles with the IRA, as the latter should in no circumstance just be referred to as "the army". JonCTalk 21:49, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
My main concern was that there could be confusion with the Irish Army seeing as the incident took place just yards north of the border. I also agree that the IRA should never be referred to as "the Army"; and for that matter never as "the Provos", "the lads" or "the 'Ra"!--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:37, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
We're all agreed then! Mooretwin (talk) 20:53, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
Absolutely.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 05:58, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Number of IRA men at the scene[edit]

There had to have been at least seven IRA men at the scene: the two men in camouflage paint and Army fatigues manning the road and the four gunmen who came from the van's rear. In addition there would have been a driver of the van. No mention has been made in any report of the van's driver. I would presume he wasn't wearing camouflage paint and he most certainly didn't have a balaclava. Another thing, I haven't been able to discover at what point the van began tailing Buchanan's car.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 12:10, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Orange Order[edit]

Were either of the officers members of the Orange Order?--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 08:25, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Down Orange Welfare[edit]

For the sake of maintaining a balanced, NPOV, this section needs to be in the article. Weir's allegations regarding DOW were published in his affidavit which was accepted by the late Henry Barron. To omit this section violates Wikipedia's NPOV policy. Adding this does not mean we advocate Weir's claims, but rather we include them, then let the reader make up his or her own mind regarding their veracity. In future, any major revisions and deletions should be discussed here first as it's going to take me about an hour to restore the deleted section. Thanks.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 08:01, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

Hi Jeanne, I challenge the inclusion of the section on the basis of relevance WP:REL. Weir's allegation centres on events that were supposed to have happened more than ten years before the murder of Breen, which is the subject of this article. There is no evidence that the alleged wrong doing of Breen in the 1970s played any part in the IRA's motivation in targeting him or Buchanan. There are other articles on John Weir and one specifically on Down Orange Welfare you have created, Jeanne which cover this allegation. It may be relevant to include a line or two about it in Breen's biographical section but not to devote a whole section to it here. While the allegation may or may not be true, it appears to be wholly unconnected to the 1989 ambush or the events that followed it. Most articles I have seen about Weir's allegation only refer to Breen's murder in 1989 as a footnote. I don't see how the article would breach WP:NPOV if the section were omitted. Thanks, B626mrk (talk) 23:36, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
I emphatically disagree. It is most certainly relevent to the killings as they are serious allegations of collusion between members of the RUC and the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade/Glenanne Gang. Whether it's true (wholly or partially) I have no idea, but we need to keep a section here to provide balance and NPOV. It's not just Weir who has made allegations of collusion regarding Breen. Authors Paul Larkin and Sean McPhelimy have also raised this isssue. It's pertinent to have this section. We don't know the IRA motives for carrying out the killings and it's within the realm of possibility that the sheer fact of them being such senior RUC officers might have been a motive in itself. However, just because the allegations relate to the 1970s doesn't mean it has no significance to an ambush and murder committed in 1989. If the allegations regarding Breen's alleged involvement with DOW were removed it would clearly appear as if Wikipedia was attempting to present a solidly pro-RUC POV rather than a balanced, well-rounded article. By having the section it does not mean we endorse Weir's statements but we need to present them, nonetheless, as they do have bearing on this article. The HET report which has just come out regarding the Miami Showband killings, bears out Weir's allegations about Robin Jackson having been an RUC Special Branch agent. BTW, Buchanan appears to have been spotlessly clean as there is nothing which links him to any form of collusion.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 07:06, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
We should also take in mind that WP:REL is just an essay, while WP:CENSOR is an official Wikipedia's policy.--Darius (talk) 15:58, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for putting it so succintly, DagosNavy. Censorship is precisely the issue here. If we were to remove Weir's allegations it would appear to outsiders that we were trying to censor Wikipedia with the aim of avoiding any possible taint to the memory of Officer Breen. With all due respect to the dead officers, we as editors do not write articles to either sympathise with, demonise, or eulogise the subjects but rather to inform the readers by just giving them all the facts.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 16:08, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
I hate to continue disagreeing with Jeanne but I still don't think that omitting the section amounts to a breach of WP:CENSOR and is "pro-RUC". I said above that it would be relevant to include a brief mention of it in Breen's biographical section. That and there already being a whole page devoted to DOW, I honestly can't see how it would amount to censorship of the allegation on Wikipedia. I should add with ref to WP:CENSOR, I don't find the allegations against Breen to be offensive or objectionable and am of an open mind as to their veracity. I don't regard passing mention of them in this article as unfair.
The biographies of the deceased men are included as background information to the subject of the article which is the ambush, are not eulogies to them as they largely reflect the Cory report and evidence given to Smithwick so far. The page is also not solely a biography of Breen. To include a whole section on the allegation originally stuck me as an outsider first reading the article as possibly WP:UNDUE as it implied from its wording that the only source of the allegation was Weir. The Barron report on Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974 is cited to provide some verification of Weir's credibility. However, Breen is not mentioned by name anywhere in the report and it states on page 162:
"Bearing in mind that Weir was an active member of the security services, and that his allegations relating to the period from May to August 1976 have received considerable confirmation, the Inquiry believes that his evidence overall is credible, and is inclined to accept significant parts of it. Some reservation is appropriate in relation to his allegations against police officers having regard to his possible motive in going public, and also in relation to his own part in the offences which he relates."
The report goes on to reference an allegation Weir made in 2001 that a UDR man was the best man at an RUC Chief Inspector's wedding(Page 153). The man denied this when interviewed. Furthermore, another RUC member of Weir's gang, Laurence McClure, when asked about the allegation that senior RUC officers (presumably including Breen) knew of and encouraged their criminal activites, McClure said it was totally untrue (page 157). In its assessment of Weir's evidence, the report notes Weir would understandably harbour bitterness towards the RUC because of his being imprisoned while the two UVF men he claims were mainly responsible for the Strathearn murder were not charged.
Under WP:VERIFY, the reader of the article must be able to check cited sources that directly support the information in the article. Having read the relevant sections of the Barron report, it appears not to give unequivocal support to Weir's allegations generally and does not provide any support to the specific allegations against Breen. Nonetheless, I think it is relevant to give some some mention to the allegations against Breen as background but not a whole detailed section.
I think it may be appropriate to seek arbitration to resolve this in an amicable manner as per all articles about the Troubles. My aim in this is to improve the article which is about a subject I remember from the time it happened when I was a child and about which I have read a great deal since the Smithwick Tribunal began last June. As the Tribunal is due to report in the coming months, it's appropriate that the article meets Wikipedia's highest standards. I still don't see how the changes I propose would detract from that. Thanks, B626mrk (talk) 23:08, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
As I said before Weir is not the only person allegeing collusion between Breen and loyalist paramilitaries. Sean McPhelimy and Paul Larkin also claim this. Larkin wrote a book A Very British Jihad and on page 183 he discusses Breen's alleged collusion with UVF paramilitaries such as Robin Jackson. It's important that the article presents these allegations otherwise it appears as I said above that Wikipedia is seeking tp sweep anything negative about Breen under the carpet which as a consequence renders the article POV in favour of the RUC. The DOW subsection needs to be in the section under the heading Allegations and not in Breen's biographical section. As a compromise, I believe we can include in the section Justice Barron's reservations about Weir's allegations against police officers and his possible motives for doing so..--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 07:40, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
The Inquiry's reservations have just been added to the article. I must go out now so the debate will have to be continued later on.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 08:24, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm with Jeanne and Darius, allegations made about an event should be covered in its article. Keresaspa (talk) 18:38, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
With respect Keresapspa, whatever event it is you're talking about, it is not the '1989 Jonesborough Ambush'. If I can turn the argument about "sweeping anything negative about Breen under the carpet" on its head and ask where you think the necessity is to include a section on an unverified allegation about events that happened more than ten years before the event that is the subject of the article? This is when the verifiable evidence clearly suggests the allegation is irrelevant to the events that led up to and followed the ambush. I don't have access to Larkin's book just now but does he cite any other person apart from Weir as the primary source of the allegation against Breen? If he does not and merely speculates about its truthfulness (as Toby Harnden did about the collusion allegation against the Garda), then his book provides no verification for the allegation. It appears that the allegation in itself represents nothing more than a point of view about Breen and its inclusion has far more implications for WP:NPOV than its omission. My reading of WP:NPOV says to me an article cannot contain anything that can be construed to be pro- or anti- anything which includes the RUC, the IRA or any of the other highly controversial organisations associated with the Irish troubles. You have not addressed the issues aroundWP:UNDUE, WP:VERIFY and WP:REL that this section clearly raises. If the consensus is to keep it in, I would suggest that changing the article's title to relfect that it covers subjects other than the 1989 ambush. B626mrk (talk) 21:57, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Jeanne, as it happens, I also don't really have time to continue with this debate. I think impartial arbitration is needed at this point to resolve this issue. Thanks, B626mrk (talk) 21:57, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
B626mrk, User Keresaspa happens to be an experienced editor on Northern Ireland and Troubles-related articles, and I really don't think it behoves you to adopt such a dismissive attitude regarding his input here. As I said before (sigh), whether Weir's evidence is fully accepted by you or others isn't the issue, it's the mere fact that his allegations against Breen were published in his sworn affidavit that is important, hence need to be included under the section Allegations of collusion. So what if Weir is referring to a time 10 years before the ambush? Take a look at the Lee Harvey Oswald article. Even incidents dating from his childhood are mentioned. I largely rewrote the Miami Showband killings article and brought it up to GA Class. Even though not a shred of evidence exists to link Robert Nairac to the ambush at Buskhill (and I for one do not think he was present), because the allegations are out there, I had to perforce include them in the article. I have written over 40 articles on Troubles-related people and events. There are two things I take pride in: NPOV and completeness. In fact, many of the articles which I have created and expanded have been linked to on blogs and many forums. Even Paul Larkin himself linked to the John Weir article I wrote and he praised its extensive coverage. If we were to remove the DOW section, it would render the article incomplete as well as strongly POV with the Garda Siochana wearing the black hats and the RUC wearing the white. I compromised by including Justice Barron's reservations about Weir's veracity in relation to his allegations against police officers. You will notice on that same page 162 of the Barron Report that the Gardai believed Weir's allegations should be treated with the utmost seriousness. It is really only the RUC which totally reject Weir's statements. An international panel of inquiry headed by Douglass Cassel was commissioned by the Pat Finucane Centre to investigate collusion in sectarian killings in Northern Ireland. The Cassel Report which was published in 2006 also regarded Weir's evidence as overall credible. They backed up Weir's allegation regarding Robin Jackson having been an RUC Special Branch agent and HET confirms this in its report on the Miami Showband massacre. Let me address the policy of Undue Weight which you brought up. I added the allegations against Breen in a brief subsection under the appropriate section Allegations of collusion; the bulk of the article deals with the ambush itself, the Smithwick Tribunal and the allegations regarding Garda collusion. So that dog just won't bark, B626mrk. As for verification, I have sourced the allegations; they are clearly relevent and present the correct balance to maintain a truly NPOV which would not be the case were they omitted or tossed out as a mere sentence or two under Breen's biography. Wouldn't this look great: There were allegations of collusion between Breen and loyalist paramiltaries; however, as the claims were made by convicted murderer John Weir they aren't accepted by the RUC so they shouldn't be given further consideration here. Now that would really present a balanced NPOV! I should also add that the article has been stable up to now.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 07:49, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

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